- Use additional resources to practice algebra, as needed.
- Learn to check answers in some way other than looking “in the back of the book.”
- Use the distributive property and other properties to simplify algebraic expressions and check your work.
- Solve and simplify linear equations and check solutions of equations by plugging them back in.
- Solve equations with variables in the denominator and check solutions by plugging them in.
- Solve equations of those two types with multiple variables for one variable, resulting in a formula for that one variable.
- Evaluate variable expressions when given the value of each variable, using the correct order of operations.
The prerequisite for these materials includes mastery of basic math skills and some algebra, as needed to achieve “college-level” on Texas’ TSI test. Many students who have learned math at this level forget it easily, so this review section of some algebra is provided. Some students in the class will go through this material quickly and others will need to go much more slowly and do more review work. Additional optional practice problems are provided on the course web pages. The next few topics in the do not use this algebra, so it isn’t necessary to master everything in this topic immediately.
A major difference between this course and most other math courses involves “checking your answer by looking in the back of the book.” In standard algebra classes, students practice quite a lot of similar problems and are expected to check many of the answers by looking in the back of the book. When we use mathematics in applications in the real world, there is no “back of the book.” In this course, we will learn methods for independently checking our results to see if they are correct, or at least reasonable, without having to rely on answers that someone else gives us. Most students find this awkward at first, but when they persist in practicing the checking methods, develop more confidence in using mathematics and in their problem-solving skills. Even when a solution is provided in the “back of the book” we expect you to pay attention to other ways of checking your work, and to use those frequently (including on test questions.)